Dead Birds Review

Dead Birds (2004)

Starring: Michael Shannon, Patrick Fugit, Nicki Aycox
Directed by: Alex Turner

The Premise

A group of fugitive Confederate Soldiers hole up in an abandoned plantation after robbing a bank. They soon regret their decision when they realize they're at the mercy of the malevolent spirits that still linger in this place.

The First Stitches

After the wispy opening credits, the movie opens to a dusty Fairhope, Alabama, a la 1863. A group of Confederate soldiers slowly ride up to the Commerce Bank, stopping to make a deposit. As a deal is brokered, another posse of riders make their way into town, also with "business" to attend to. The soldiers standing post outside are quickly taken out as the robbers make their way into the bank. Every living soul in the building is quickly dispatched (with the exception of a mole) and the gang makes a not-too-subtle escape from town under the cover of more gunfire.

After making good headway into the woods, the gang soon realize they are lost and may not find their safe house. Luckily they find the next best thing just before the sun goes down...

Easy Riders

Mending the Seams

Plot: Dead Birds is a very story driven Western horror movie. As opposed to how I felt about A Haunting In Salem, which was similarly slow, this film was significantly more interesting and appealing. While it does take time in between each major scene for more exposition, there is little in the way of fluff as we get a bit more into each character with every scene and even more so, a bit more into the actual story.

Characters: Speaking of the characters, one thing I truly loved about this movie was the casting and the character writing. Initially, I had to put away all bias and view this as objectively as possible (I've come to be a pretty decent Michael Shannon and Patrick Fugit fan over the course of time) and as it stands, there were no characters I didn't like in this film. I found the performances to be quite solid and enjoyable.

Setting/Atmosphere: The look and feel of the locale was very fitting for the film. The brief time spent in town definitely sets the bar for the rest of the movie and the subsequent scenes through the plantation and its fields do well to not dip below it. I did enjoy the night scenes as they weren't significantly overlit, which is sometimes the case in period pieces.

Special Effects: I was mostly impressed by the visual effects. While sometimes gory and repulsive, they were tasteful and not overused. I did feel some of the more "jump scare" type scenes failed to keep up, but the slack is easily picked up by pretty much everything else.

Music/Audio: I enjoyed the hauntingly appropriate soundtrack for the film. At no point did I feel audibly derailed or off put by stray sound effects or bad music.

At least he got to keep his hat.

The Binding Stitch

Dead Birds is a film that should not be overlooked. As it slowly pulls you into madness, it pays off in the end as this satisfying tale outshines many others of its kind. This movie fits the bill for anyone looking for a good period piece horror or a movie that doesn't push you through a lack of story with constant visual effects. There is a little bit of everything here for the average horror fan or western fan and I would recommend giving it a try.

Yes, please do.

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